Tuesday, November 14, 2006

borat recap

I saw the Borat movie last weekend. I liked it, but was also fairly exhausting to watch. Having seen all the HBO Ali G shows on dvd, I had a good idea of what was coming, but I still felt violated by the end. It was the final scene with Pamela Anderson that did it. Reading what she says here made me feel much better about the whole experience. Running naked through a mortgage insurance convention brandishing a dildo is one thing, but assaulting someone unawares is something else entirely.

My fiancĂ© and I were talking afterwards about how people would react when they saw the movie. I was kind of hoping for riots a la Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring or The Rules of the Game in WWII-era France. But judging by the Brooklyn audience we were part of, I think many people won’t really know what it is they are watching. I certainly didn’t when I first saw the Ali G show in Britain several years ago. First of all, I could barely understand what he was saying. And it looked like a goofy British news talk show to me. The people on the show seemed to take it seriously, so I did at first as well.

Evidently, some people in our audience felt the same way about Borat. At one point in the movie, somewhere near the gay pride parade segment where Borat says “You mean the person that put plastic fist in my anus is homosexual?” someone in the audience yelled out “faggot!” I think Borat will have the last laugh on America if half the country watches and cheers him on unironically. He plays a 21st century Candide, a bumpkin traveling the world peeling up the corners of polite convention to reveal the often dystopic reality underneath. But you can read Candide as a straight story, too, as a colorful travelogue. And you can watch Borat for the slapstick and funny accent and completely miss the rest of it. I have to wonder how many people will watch the movie and not know he is not really from Kazakhstan …

There was also a 7 or 8 year old kid sitting next to us in the theater. During the naked hotel scene, my fiance overheard his dad, who was sitting nearby, say "I wouldn't have brought him if I'd known there was all this gay shit" in the movie. Never mind any number of other things in the movie that an 8 year old might be better off not seeing (just about all of it). But Borat could turn him gay so look out! Protect your children!

Dad, if you are reading this, I would think twice about watching the movie. I think you might feel kind of like Grandma felt when you took her to Shaun of the Dead. Although if the orthodox Jews or parents of young children in our audience didn’t walk out, I guess anyone can make it through to the end.

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